The Holy Word in the Glossy Pages of 1980’s Christian Youth Magazines

Church of God magazines for youth in the 1980s

 

Before you get mad, I’m not here to condescend to Christians; you’ll note that everything from the past is fair game for a bit of light mockery and fun in my articles.  Indeed, it’s with a smile and a good-intentioned ribbing that we cast our glance to these Church of God magazines for youth in the 1980s.

According to Wikipedia: “Church of God is a name used by numerous denominational bodies, most of which descend from Pentecostal, Holiness, 7th Day Baptist and Adventist traditions. The largest denomination with this name is the Pentecostal Church of God with over seven million members in over 170 countries.”

So, I came across a stack of magazines published by the Church of God, and thought I’d share some snippets.  As a time capsule, it really provides an interesting look at Christian living and perspectives in the eighties.  Let’s have a look at a few, shall we?

March 1986

 

“Why Am I Here?” Dad apparently thinks the answer lies somewhere on that star map.  The article eventually provides the answer to this profound question… (drum roll, please)… and the answer is… the Church of God.  Yep, join up and you won’t have to be confused like the poor fellow looking for answers on his laminated star map.

 

In which we learn that you may be too fat; in which case, the magazine offers the novel idea to diet and exercise.

 

Article: “Are Your Ready for Tomorrow’s Jobs?”  Check out the jobs of the future listed in this article from thirty-two years past:

 

 

Laser and Space Technologist?  I don’t question that these jobs exist, but it’s like they’re getting their jobs list from a sci-fi movie.  Also take note of the mad race against Japan for the future of Aquaculture.  And since no one can program a computer to fix itself, that means computer repair will be in high demand.

 

 

In this article we learn that we can actually learn from the past.  (Is it me, or is this magazine entirely written by Captain Obvious?)  Naturally, by ‘reading from the past’, the magazine means The Bible… according to the interpretation of the Church of God, of course.

 

 

The Church of God has the answer to why we can be clumsy.  But you’ll have to wait to the next issue.

 

December 1982

 

We get a lesson on sex.  The magazine talks to a girl named Cindy who says:

“Everyone talks about making love but it makes me sick. If they really loved each other, they wouldn’t have someone else every other week.” The author adds: “Very perceptive, Cindy.”

 

 

“Sex is the most powerful driving force in our lives.” A bit surprising to find this admission.

 

 

Call me jaded, but I don’t know if I like the way that banjo picker is looking at this boy.  I’m sure he accepts him…. accepts him a lot.

 

February 1983

 

In this issue, we get the Church of God’s definitive review of popular music…

 

  1. “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. II” – they take issue with the bad grammar! “Schoolteachers are not having an easy time teaching grammar these days. Why should it be easy when many songs make a special attempt to use poor grammar?”
  2. “Anarchy in the U.K.” – “It’s dominant theme: I want to destroy.” No shit?
  3. The author mentions a song that includes lyrics about “messing around with another person’s wife, throwing one’s boss out of a window, getting fired, hot wiring and taking a city truck on a joy ride that ends by turning the truck over on the mayor’s lawn, and beating someone half to death.” What the hell song is he talking about? I’m dying to know!

 

A few pages onward and the author gets to inevitable conclusion – that pop music is satanic.  This is all predictable and we’ve heard this refrain for decades – what’s interesting is the “Impressions of a Rock Critic” insert, where we hear about a Nina Hagen concert.  Nina Hagen!   I have to hand it to them – usually these critics go after easy targets like Ozzy; they’re literally calling out Nina Hagen.

 

 

In this article we learn “what successful poised girls are made of.”  The author states: “… to make the most of your femininity you have to spend time learning what styles of clothing are becoming to the feminine shape God has given you.”

 

 

“Let me tell you, son.  Back in the late sixties, we’d break into a church, drop acid, and have a big orgy. Afterwards, we’d steal money from our parents, do some heroine and make bomb threats to the Pentagon.”

“Can I do that, dad?”; “Sorry son.  It’s the eighties now.  No fun allowed.”

May 1981

 

In this article we learn that cheerleading isn’t just about being ultra-popular and the envy of all the inferior non-cheerleaders at your school.  It’s about teamwork, hard work, discipline, yada yada yada.

 

Unbelievably basic info provided – at the level of “don’t put your finger over the lens.”  With everyone a “photographer” these days, this article seems particularly antiquated.

 

September 1981

 

Yeah, it won’t be long until the lion gets hungry.

 

 

The titular article is about how, when the “Millennium” arrives, the lion will lie down with the lamb… which The Church of God takes literally to mean that we’ll be frolicking peacefully with our large predators when that day arrives.

The article goes on to say that Millennium is not here yet, as evidenced by the scary cover photo shoot with “Zamba” the lion.  They actually had the baby hold a lamb!  The lion naturally kept trying to break free of his chain and eat the baby and the lamb… this is insane!  What if it had broken loose?  The chain in that photograph doesn’t exactly look sturdy  – or all that far from the baby!

 

The article on religious feasts isn’t particularly interesting; although, I did like this picture of an English family going somewhere for their Feast Day.

 

September 1982

 

In this article we learn the magazine’s rather extreme views on the education system:

“Actually education is preparing the world for COSMOCIDE – the blasting out of existence all life on earth… From the first grade of the child’s education is a system of brainwashing.  I have pictured it as a classroom of little pupils, each having a funnel stuck into the top of his head, and the teacher pouring out of a pitcher a concoction of ready-made ideas, theories, errors, facts and supposed facts, untruths and truths.  It is a process of memory training.  The child is induced to accept without question whatever teacher or textbook says.”

 

A rather dull tale of the end of the world – a favorite topic of these Church of God folks.

An article on overcoming shyness.  The advice basically amounts to: pretend to be happy and smile a lot.

 

Finally, we have an article on the impending horror of not being able to do mental math, thanks to all these confounded calculators.

Well, that’s about all I can take for today.  We’ve seen actual lions chained just steps away from babies holding lambs as bait.  We’ve seen the future and it’s going to involve lots of lasers and space technologists.  And most of all, we’ve learned to stay clear of Nina Hagen.  THE END.